State Board of Education President Mark Biedron’s replacement was approved by the State Senate June 22. The approval ends months of uncertainty as to his future on the board. Biedron will be replaced by Mary Elizabeth Gazi, an attorney with Dughi, Hewitt & Domalewski, the firm where Gov. Chris Christie once worked.
The June 22 vote, followed another controversial approval earlier in the month, when the Senate confirmed a replacement for Vice President Joseph Fisicaro (Senate Approves New State Board Nominees, June 21, 2017). Fisicaro’s replacement, Kathy Goldenberg, served on the Moorestown school board until recently.
The fact that neither Biedron nor Fisicaro was renominated by Christie fueled speculation the governor was attempting to rid the board of members who have challenged his administration’s positions in the past. The Governor, who nominated Biedron to the board several years ago, has never explained why he chose not to renominate him. Biedron was well respected by education advocates, including NJPSA.
On Thursday, the Senate voted, 28-5, to confirm Gazi. Sens. Loretta Weinberg, Shirley Turner, Nia Gill, Bob Gordon and Ron Rice cast dissenting votes.
Biedron and Fisicaro were both nominated by the board’s nominating committee in early June to serve another year as president and vice president. The full board was set to vote on that proposal next month.